Shishapangma, West Summit, New Route. Eduard Sánchez and I left Kathmandu on October 4, headed for the Langtang Valley. Accompanied by three Sherpas, we trekked until the last town. We climbed a mountain called Naya Kanja (5800m) to acclimate. Some days after that, we started to walk through the valley and we installed our first base camp close to the Langtang. During the next 30 days, our solitude was absolute.
Over four days, we made a recon of Hagen’s Col, where we left one fixed rope for ascent and descent and a cache of climbing equipment, gas, and food. From Hagen’s Col, we observed the splendid southwest side of Shishapangma. At first, our idea was to climb the British route on the main peak, but we also wanted to investigate the possibility of opening a new route on the unknown west side of Shishapangma (7968-7998m). We knew that the west summit is almost 8000 meters high and had only been climbed once, by Polish mountaineer Jerzy Kukuczka.
Back in base camp, we rested for several days and talked about our objective. We needed to choose between climbing an 8000-meter peak or opening a new route that didn’t reach 8000 meters. In spite of the risk, we decided to try the second option and open a new route in absolutely alpine style.
We quit base camp with just the necessary equipment in our packs, then began up a narrow goulotte with some technical steps and spots around 80 degrees. Although we knew we would encounter some difficult steps, we decided not to rope up so we could climb faster. After we passed the goulette, we climbed a big snow slope with an average angle of 60 degrees.
We established our first bivouac at 6700 meters. The next day, we started to climb the most difficult part of our route: a big wall that we ultimately passed via mixed climbing. The second bivouac was at 7300 meters. We woke at 3 a.m., then climbed the second important mixed section.
We reached the top of the mountain at 9 a.m. on November 1 on our sixth day of climbing from base camp. We spent the night at our last bivouac and the next day climbed over a wall (with no ropes) and returned to the glacier at night, absolutely tired and exhausted. We slept there and crossed the glacier until we reached Hagen’s Col, which we descended with a rope. Two days more and we finally arrived at our base camp. We had spent ten days climbing non-stop.
At the end, we returned to Kathmandu, because we needed to visit the doctor and take care of some problems Eduard was having with his toe—and also because we wanted to rest and eat a lot.
We gave our route a Tibetan name: Nyong Mong (60-80°, 2100m) which means “something that afflicts your soul.” We called it this because we think that when you climb new routes in alpine style, you have a big responsibility, and you feel an absolute solitude, a doubt inside and sometimes a deep feeling of suffering.
Eloi Callado, Spain